Friday, January 06, 2012

Teachers hold out for a better pensions deal

In keeping with their profession, the two biggest teachers' unions seek to offer us a lesson in how to campaign and negotiate for a better deal on pensions. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16442607).

NUT and NASUWT have both refused to accept the "Heads of Agreement" announced, with such fanfare, before Xmas as a settlement of the pensions dispute and are demanding further improvements.

NUT General Secretary, Christine Blower, makes the obvious point that; "The Government must face the fact that further discussions and additional funding are needed." (http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/14699)

This afternoon's meeting of the NASUWT Executive unanimously arrived at the same conclusion - they refuse to be browbeaten into accepting that this is the "final offer" since it doesn't address their concerns about contribution rates and retirement age (http://www.nasuwt.org.uk/Whatsnew/NASUWTNews/PressReleases/PensionsStatement/NASUWT_008782)

The NUT Executive will meet next week to decide how to take the campaign forward. Rejecting now what the Government describes as their final offer implies the need for further action.

It is increasingly obvious that the dispute over public sector pensions is not over. A growing number of experienced lay union Committees have concluded that they do not accept that the repackaging of Danny Alexander's 2 November statement on 20 December can be the final word about what trade union members can achieve in defence of our pension rights.

UNISON members have until Tuesday morning to share their views with members of the Service Group Executives (SGEs) whose decisions will not only, quite properly, determine UNISON's stance, but may also help to decide whether our movement is united in a campaign for fair pension provisions for all or buckles in the face of pressure from the Government of our enemies, thereby inviting further attacks on every front.

There are difficult decisions confronting our SGEs. There are risks in continuing the campaign, including the risk that those who doubt our ability to continue to mobilise our members may turn out to have been right. However, we should draw encouragement from the confidence and determination shown by other trade unionists - and consider the enormous risks of being seen to concede now, in a dispute which has always been about much more than pensions.

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